Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow's promising rookie season came to an abrupt end on Sunday, as he suffered a reportedly torn ACL in Cincinnati's Week 11 loss to the Washington Football Team.
Burrow's injury was the result of an unfortunate high-low hit from Washington defenders Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen. There was nothing the rookie could have done to stop it from happening.
While the injury wasn't one Burrow himself could have prevented, ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Rex Ryan thinks Zac Taylor and the Bengals staff were wrong with how they handled their rookie QB this season.
"I think it was reckless in the way that they handled him," Ryan said on First Take. "I know the coach is remorseful about it now, but we saw it coming the whole season."
The combination of Burrow's high volume of pass attempts with the Bengals' awful offensive line is what irked Ryan the most about how Cincinnati used Burrow in 2020.
"I got back to how they've handled him," Ryan said. "He's had more dropback passes than any quarterback in the league. That's how you're going to handle a rookie quarterback with a horrible offensive line and a bad football team? That's not what you do with this kid."
The rookie quarterback dropped back to pass 450 times this season, the most of any quarterback in the NFL. He's been sacked 32 times, the third-most of any passer in the league, too.
While Burrow's injury was the result of a fluky hit, Ryan thinks that it was only a matter of time before the quarterback got seriously hurt.
"I thought, 'Oh, he's going to get him killed. he's gonna get hurt.' And that's exactly what happened," Ryan said.
Having been a head coach on the hot seat before, Ryan understands Taylor's urgency to win. And thus far, Burrow has proved him throwing often gives the Bengals the best path to victory.
But if Taylor and his staff knew they were going to throw often, Ryan wishes they did more to address their offensive line, which has been one of the worst groups in the NFL.
"He's the face of the franchise, not you as a coach," Ryan said. "We could care less about you as a coach. We love this guy as a football player. Let's protect him...This isn't just a Cincinnati loss or a Bengal fan loss. All of us who love the NFL and love our players, this is a huge loss for all of us."